Latvia’s drivers are among the drunkest in Europe, and anyone caught three times over the legal limit can have their car seized
4 hours ago
by Sebastien Bell
On Wednesday night, seven cars were driven onto a trailer and out of a state impound lot in Latvia. Driving through a snowstorm, the cars, seized from drunk drivers, were bound for Ukraine.
The shipment was the first being sent by Latvia to the country that is under siege from Russia, as part of a new scheme approved by the country’s parliament last month. The state-owned cars will now be transferred to Ukraine for use by the military and hospitals, reports the BBC.
The vehicles were seized from drivers under a new law, introduced in 2022, that allowed police to seize vehicles whose drivers were found with 1.5 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or three times over the legal limit.
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Among the European countries with the highest instances of drunk driving, the law allowed the state to seize vehicles and sell them at auction, in an effort to curb the dangerous behavior. In 2022, police seized 4,300 vehicles under the new rule.
Separately, in February 2022, a Latvian man called Reinis Poznaks founded an NGO called Twitter Convoy, which sought to deliver vehicles donated by Latvians to the Ukrainian war effort. Since starting in February 2022, the organization has raised €2 million ($2.1 million USD at current exchange rates) and handed over more than 1,200 vehicles.
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According to Arvils Aseradens, Latvia’s finance minister, the government was inspired by Twitter Convoy’s success and introduced new legislation to allow vehicles seized under the drunk driving law to be donated to the NGO, reports Reuters.
Now, Latvia’s government is promising to give Poznaks two dozen cars per week, which will test the limits of his volunteer operation’s ability to move vehicles, as well as its founder’s willingness to drive on the Latvia’s roads.
“It’s actually very scary when you realize how many cars are driving around with drunk drivers,” Poznaks said. “No one expected that people are drunk-driving so many vehicles, they can’t sell them as fast as people are drinking.”
Only the latest effort to help the war effort, Aseradens said that his government is “ready to do practically anything to support Ukrainians.”